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Full text of "What can we do by our votes for the good of the schools?"

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MASSACHUSETTS,. ..... ,, 

SCHOOL SUFFRAGE A'SSbcfXf l&N. 



What can we do by our Votes for the 
good of the Schools? 

This question is often asked, both by women who are 
indifferent to their newly-gained power, and do not care 
to exercise it, and by those who are earnestly inquiring as 
to their duty in the matter. And to their question is often 
added the statement " in our town we always have a good 
School-committee, elected by the votes of the men ; so our 
votes are not needed ; — and — why should we vote ? " 

To all these questioners we would like to offer some sug- 
gestions that seem to us of weight. 

i. There are in Massachusetts two orders of schools; 
good schools and bad schools ; with every degree of varia- 
tion from very bad to exceedingly good. 

2. If you live in a town in which the schools are in the 
main below the average, there seems hardly room to doubt 
that by your vote you may do something towards their im- 
provement. For your schools are poor either because your 
committee is not equal to the work of making them good, 
or because the public sentiment of your town will not sus- 
tain the committee in efforts to improve them. The women 
of a town help to make public sentiment just as truly 
as do the men, and are just as responsible for whatever 



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may be wrong.ia it, .if., they, do not use their influence to 
make it what if SsJuJuUI be.'; tf this right public sentiment 
be lacking.^ .ypur. town,, you, by-ypuf .vote, and by the in- 
teres/. ; a'n,d N^tfce vAjph yoijr jwofe represents, may 
directly contribute to the formation of a better feeling, 
which will demand improvement in the Schools. If your 
committee be incompetent, it needs no word of ours to 
show that, by the votes of the citizens, they must be sup- 
planted by the right persons, before you can possibly have 
good schools. 

3. But if you live in one of the fortunate towns, where the 
schools are good, " why is your vote needed " you ask, and 
we reply,— first, no schools are as good as they should be, 
as good as they may and will be when all the citizens are 
public-spirited enough to desire to keep them among the 
best by steady progress ■ for in education as elsewhere im- 
provements are constantly made, old errors are discovered 
and removed, and new' and better methods are invented. 
Eternal vigilance on the part of the citizens, is the price of 
schools that shall be always good, that shall keep up to the 
standard, which is always rising with the progress of civil- 
ization. And again, we reply, that if you have a good 
committee its members deserve the recognition that comes 
from the votes of their fellow-citizens. It is little that can 
be done to reward faithful school-committee members for 
services that are always responsible, and often very diffi- 
cult and trying. Are they not entitled to an election by a 
large vote, and will they not render heartier service if they 
are sure that they have the grateful recognition of the 
women of their town, as well as of the men ? Sure that 
they will have genuine sympathy in their efforts to improve 
the schools ? And will it do them any harm to know that 
the watchful eyes of the women are upon the schools, these 



homes of our children, which are hardly second in their in- 
fluence to the special homes, in which we gather our little 
ones around our own hearthstones ? And we say still 
further that your teachers are also entitled to a recognition 
on the part of all the inhabitants of the town. To get rid of 
bad teachers is an obvious necessity ; but this is not the 
chief need in this direction. There are in all our towns 
young teachers, who have good ability, perhaps, and fair 
training, who in the end will doubtless make first-rate 
teachers, but who have yet to gain experience, which is of 
the utmost importance in their work. The women of the 
town have it in their power to be a great strength and sup- 
port to such teachers as these. If you are ready to vote in 
school matters, you will doubtless find a way to speak the 
friendly word, to do the kindly deed, for the teacher who 
needs it. It may be a word of praise, or of criticism, 
a suggestion of new expedients to be tried in governing the 
unruly, in influencing for good those who are on the wrong 
track, who have no good influences surrounding them in 
their homes. 

If the women of your town would only accept an inter- 
est in the schools as one of their duties and high privileges, 
the way would soon open for them to be of real service in 
these directions. And one thing further let us say, no 
good, earnest, successful teacher can ever be paid by 
the salary alone, any more than a mother can be paid 
for love and devotion towards her child. Add to the 
money payment, a grateful appreciation of your teachers' 
work, and you will lighten many a burden that weighs 
heavily upon every one who elevates the profession of 
teaching to the place where it alone belongs. Those of 
you who have been teachers, know how much better ser- 
vice could be given, if there were in the community at least 



an appreciation of the fact that the life of a faithful teach- 
er is not spent in wandering beside still waters in shady 
groves ; but is the daily climbing of somewhat rugged 
mountain paths, where stones and briars are often found. 
In this slight sketch of the value of your vote to the 
schools, we have purposely left to the last, our word in 
reference to the importance to the community that the 
schools should be good. And perhaps it would be as well 
to leave it all unsaid. What woman is there, who may 
not understand it, if she will but give it her serious thought? 
The minds and the characters,— to say nothing of the 
physical life,— of the children of our good old State, are 
shaped in the schools ■ which are indeed prime sources of 
good or evil in the community, making, to a large extent 
the mental and moral atmosphere in which we all must 
live. The women of the State have the power to help 
in making the schools good • uniting with the best men, 
they will have an overwhelming power in this direction. 

These two facts, women of Massachusetts, speak for 
themselves. To us it looks as if no public-spirited, high- 
minded woman, reflecting upon the matter could fail to see 
the duty and the advantage of her casting a vote for the 
schools; it is a small service to offer, it will surely bring 
an ample return. 




The Massachusetts School Suffrage Association was 
formed to make the votes of women as effective as possi- 
ble in improving the schools. Already much has been 
gained in this direction by the united efforts of women 
throughout the State. But very much more remains to be 
done, which can only be accomplished by the union of all. 
To secure this, organization seems necessary ; and we ask 
your kind consideration of the following plan, and your 
help in carrying it out. 

We earnestly desire to organize in each city and town of 
the Commonwealth, local associations auxiliary to the State 
Associations. In order to attain the object of the State 
Society, it is necessary to have an interested company of 
registered and voting women in each city and town, pledged 
to awaken interest in the schools, and to arouse women to 
their special suffrage duties towards public education. 
These local associations should become members of 
the State Association, corresponding with it and reporting 
progress. 

We would suggest the following plan for forming local 
organizations : That you, alone, or in cooperation with a 
few friends, should call a parlor meeting at some centrally- 
situated house, inviting all the women who voted at the 
last election, and any others interested. Organize by 
choice of a President, Secretary, Treasurer, and one or 
more Directors. Agree to hold meetings once every 
month, in the afternoon or evening, as is most convenient. 
Draw up a plan for these meetings, as, for instance, read- 
ing, informal discussions, or addresses from persons well 
informed on some of the following subjects, or others 
which may suggest themselves. 



town. 

2. 



6 

^ The moral condition of the schools in your city or 

2. The sanitary condition of the schools 

3- The best course of study to be pursued. 

4- How should recesses be spent? 

5- Ought High-School instruction to be free ? 

6. What can be done to keep the children of factory or 
shop workers longer in school ? Y 

7- The relation between parents and teachers 

8- How much stillness in the school room should be 
required of Primary children ? 

gr L s ™ nexperienced ,rachers be -»• ""'-'»- 

ro. Kindergarten training, 
ii. Necessary qualifications for teaching 
i2. Necessary qualifications for school committees or 
school superintendents. ""itrees or 

I* Proper use of public money in education, - taking 
up the question of salaries of teachers, expenses of school 
buildings, furnishings, etc., etc. 

14. The need of women on school boards 

t o laT^h t h r y other probiems ' wm ° pen - *■ «"* 

cuhv 'to?' ! n K°T eCl am °" S y ° U Wi " be able > with °«t diffi- 
culty, to find books and pamphlets on the topics selected 

The subject of each meeting should be chosen at the 
preceding meeting, and two persons appointed, one to can 

rZ cAoT' ^^ a rCPOrt ° f *° l0Cal -^Tn 
respect to the subject in hand, and the other, to get light 

iTwo 00 ,;, 01 " Pe n S ° nS ' " reSP6Ct t0 the ideal concfitiom 
It would be well to call this local association the « Edu- 
cational Club," or »P ublic school Association," wffidi 
would invite attendance from women not yet interest to 
vote on school matters, and from men also 



The objects of this local association should be : 

i st. To awaken interest in the schools and to acquire 
actual knowledge of their method of instruction and the 
condition of the children. 

2d. To arouse men and women to the importance of 
conscientious and wisely-directed oversight of the schools 
by the public, to be exercised through the ballot in the 
choice of school officials. 

Will you take as prompt and effective measures as possi- 
ble to carry out this or some other plan of local work in 
connection with the Massachusetts School Suffrage Asso- 
ciation ? If not able to work personally, will you secure 
some other helper? Please report a beginning as soon as 
possible. 

We have taken it for granted that, in every town of the 
Commonwealth, there are persons interested in improving 
the schools. We want their help in carrying forward the 
good work, and we promise them, in return, cordial sym- 
pathy, and such help as it may be in our power to bestow. 

For the Association, 

ABBY W. MAY, 

President, 
Annette P. Rogers, 

Secretary. 
Boston, May 20, 18S1. 




PltESS OF 

DELAND & BAKTA. 

BOSTON. 



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